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  • Iranian Candy: Time to rename Raasti Northern Persian Unknown

    Hi all,

    Few years back I introduced this fig from my relatives and seems it is turning out to be a nice find. Thanks to all that have grown this one and provided info and reviews on it especially Steve (Rewton) who successfully "rewted" the original cuttings . I never intended to have Raasti Northern Persian Unknown be its long-term name. Would be very nice if from here on out if people could honor the renaming of this to Iranian Candy. Below is the full detailed back story on this fig for those interested:

    For several years I was keen on finding the very best tasting Iranian figs that originated near my family's home town of Shiraz. The problem was I lived in Virginia with a challenging mid-Atlantic climate. While southern Iran has the best tasting figs I've ever eaten in my life, their figs did very poorly in Virginia. Shiraz gets 12.4 inches annual rain which is less rain than LA. Figs in southern Iran have been cultivated and also harvested from the wild for millennia. Dry farming techniques are done with superb cultivars that have ancient roots. The deep roots claw to find that one drop of water somewhere down in the ground to survive zero irrigation even in already the driest of climates. Local villagers harvest these sometimes from mountain figs growing wildly in the Zagros mountain range and sell them in fig baskets at the side of the road. They are caprified naturally in their native climate. The result: the most insanely rich, intense, and decadent fig flavors I've ever had.

    I'm not sure where I got the bright idea I could grow such figs in Virginia's climate in ground, but I had to try. With the winters, no wasp, and plenty of rain, none did well.

    Finally one year I got the idea, what about figs from northern Iran? Although my family is not from there and the figs may not all taste 11 out of 10 for flavor, there should be potential there. I had visited before and it is certainly one of the most breathtaking areas of the country with the lush green Alborz mountain range, waterfalls sprinkled throughout the Caspian coast, and milder summers than most of Iran. It is the summer dream vacation spot for Iranians. I figured the northern climate is more similar to the mid-Atlantic (though generally still not as harsh) and the growers have had a few thousand years to pick their favorite figs well adapted to the rain and chilly winters there. Rasht, a city a friend is from, I had heard referred to before as the city of rain. Could Iran have areas with rain like Virginia? No way I thought. Falls Church, VA gets a whopping 44 inches annually. But then I was surprised to learn Rasht gets 53 inches! Damn. Maybe there was hope to find a unique fig from Iran for the mid-Atlantic.

    So fast forward to the Raasti Northern Persian Unknown. It comes from the coastal city of Nowshahr along the Caspian Sea in the province of Mazandaran. Not as much rain there as Rasht, but a solid 43 inches. During one of their many trips to the Caspian coast, my great aunt and uncle (Mr. Raasti) asked around in Nowshahr amongst the locals for the best fig. Finally it was a simple garden laborer who told them to look no more and that he would bring them the best figs of Nowshahr. They sampled the figs and loved them. The rest is history.

    This ended up being one my top 5 favorite figs this year but probably at the bottom of the top 5 list . To me it is a yummy, clean, and refreshing honey fig. I have tasted better figs and I have tasted worst figs. Although cultivar is important for flavor profile, IMO cultivar is almost always trumped by other factors--maturity of tree, rain that year, heat while ripening etc. But for those that have not tasted this fig, I would say it has a tiny bit more richness than the average honey fig with a nice after taste while still feeling light. Pure refreshing honey profile. Definitely not sugar/molasses, berry, or any super exotic tones.

    I actually think honey figs get a bad rep, their simplicity nicely balances out the decadent complex figs and adds value to figs as a whole species. This is a fig I could eat many in a row as a very pleasant quickie snack without being overwhelmed.

    Without further ado, I hope forum members are able to enjoy Iranian Candy for generations to come. Steve has commented on it's ability to set fruit after a subpar winter and it is quite early. I would bet these are traits the local people of Nowshahr selected for over many years as a matter of practicality in their cooler and wetter climate. I doubt this is highly desirable for the West coast growers but who knows. But seems like a winner for East coast folk.

    Here is Nowshahr on the map (take time to scroll down through the photos on the left column to see the people's nature and town):

    A note on pronunciation:
    Nowshahr: No-shar, with the "a" like the a in apple
    Raasti: aa sounds like the "o" in the name Ross, Ross-tee--name of great uncle
    Iranian: Ee-ron-ee-un, first a like the "o" in rock, the second "a" like the a in apple

    PS final note:

    I mentioned the Caspian coast is an amazing place of beauty. I wanted to share a few photos of this region at large (outside of Nowshahr)






  • #2
    Pooya, yes, I like the idea of a simpler name even though it will probably create a little short-term confusion. On the long run it will be an improvement. I'll start using this name from here on. Thank you also for all the background on this fig.
    D-i-c-k-e-r-s-o-n, MD; zone 7a
    WL: Zaffiro, Verdolino, Figue Jaune, Nantes Maroc, Lussheim


    • #3
      I’d prefer Raasti PUNK!
      Wish list. White Baca, Rigato de Salento PB, Iranian Candy, Nerucciolo D’Elba, Saint Martin


      • #4
        A new name would work for me, too.

        Right now, I have a 1-yr old tree and a 2-mo old back-up airlayer. I don't know much yet based on 1st-hand experience. What I'm most curious about is proper pot culture. It's obvious that I'll have to treat this variety differently from Ronde de Bordeaux! What are your recommendations to get the most out of the variety growing in a pot in a fairly cool and wet climate? For example, I assume that light watering might be best . . . .

        I realize that I may be trying to put a square peg in a round hole, as the saying goes. But the early ripening of Iranian Candy demanded a trial here.
        Joe, Z6B, RI. Taking COVID-19 seriously. Self-quarantined, looking forward to next season.


        • Rewton
          Rewton commented
          Editing a comment
          Joe, I grew mine in a container for about 3 years before putting it in the ground Spring 2018. I treated it like all my other figs and it did fine. One thing I noticed (which I mention in my youtube video of this variety) is that in a container it seems to easily show rather ugly leaves. This is due to nutrient stress/fmv I guess. However, once I planted it in the ground the leaves look really clean. A lot of figs are like this but Iranian Candy was an extreme example.

        • eboone
          eboone commented
          Editing a comment
          I would agree on the ugly leaves in a pot

          My inground copy died last winter, its second in the ground, due to voles. The first winter it died to the ground despite protection and came back slowly, finally making some late figs that ripened. It did not do as well as first winter Florea or Mt Etnas. The first summer in the ground (planted in May) it actually ripened a couple late figs of a second non-breba crop, showing how quickly it ripens figs.

          My potted plant has had a couple of brebas that were not remarkable.

          I may consider a retrial in the ground.

        • jrdewhirst
          jrdewhirst commented
          Editing a comment
          Steve -- Thx. So far, mine (!) shows no evidence of FMV. It set a decent amount of fruit and ripened a respectable proportion for a 1st year tree. But FWIW, it seems to need less water than most other varieties.

      • #5
        Thanks for sharing this fig and it's history. The linked photos show how beautiful the Caspian coast is.
        Chris - Zone 6b


        • #6

          Thank you for sharing this great story. Do you have photos of the fig?


          • #7
            I like the name and from now on I will use "Iranian Candy".

            "Iranian Candy"
            Maryland Ellicott City Zone 7A


            • #8
              A very good and unique variety for my short season location!
              Jesse in western Maine, zone 4/5
              Wishlist- Figues Juane, Demos unk, Nantes Maroc, Thermalito


              • #9
                That is a beautiful place. Thanks for the links. I never would have looked and seen. Beautiful yellow fig. One of you fig folks need to send some plant material down here to see how it grows in Georgia!
                Eatonton, GA zone 7b/8a


                • #10
                  Well, we know it grows on the West side of the Chesapeake, but how about the East? Any cuttings in the future?
                  Zone 7a - Dover, DE Wishlist: ALL OF THE FIGS!
                  Seriously : LdA, CLBC, CC, all CdD, All LSU, Black Ischia


                  • #11
                    I’d love a cutting to see how well it would do in the PNW. Amazing thank you for sharing.
                    Zone 8a Olympia, WA
                    I Own/Growing: Hardy Chicago, Violetta, Lattarula, Mary Lane, RdB, VdB, BM, YLN, and Unk (Raintree Nursery),DK, Olympian, Madeira Island Black!